updated 8/6/2006 2:51:44 PM ET 2006-08-06T18:51:44

A British soldier was fatally shot Sunday as NATO-led troops went after Taliban insurgents in a southern mountain range, and a U.S. soldier suffered minor injuries in the suicide truck bombing of a military convoy in a neighboring province, officials said.

Officials said British and Afghan forces had used air power and ground troops to kill 17 Taliban fighters.

Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, in an interview with The Associated Press, urged the international community to do more to stem the flow of what he called the sources of terrorism — Islamic extremists, weapons and terror funding — into the country.

He said his country remains the main victim of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network, and said eliminating the network was “an international task.”

The British soldier was killed in Helmand province Sunday as NATO-led troops attempted to extend the government’s reach in the insurgency-wracked south, where they took charge of security from a U.S. led-coalition a week ago. The death was the ninth suffered by the alliance’s troops since the handover.

In the city of Kandahar, highway police commander Mohammad Anwar said he believed a suicide bomber had triggered the truck blast that left a U.S. soldier slightly injured and a vehicle in his convoy in flames just outside the city.

U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Tamara Lawrence said it was unclear whether it had been a suicide attack.

Taliban fighters step up attacks
In recent months, the militants have stepped up their attacks against Afghan and NATO-led forces in the worst upsurge of violence in the country since the late 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban regime for hosting Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.

Before NATO took charge of security in the south, U.S.-led troops conducted a six-week offensive aimed at expanding the reach of the Kabul government into the region. More than 1,100 suspected Taliban militants were killed, wounded or captured during the operation, the military said.

Spanta said that the resurgent Taliban militants and al-Qaida network are working together in Afghanistan.

“They are different elements of the same terrorist network,” Spanta said, without offering proof.

Official wants better relations with Pakistan
In conciliatory comments after months of acrimony, he also called for a “new dimension” in relations with Pakistan — which Afghan officials have repeatedly accused of training and harboring militants.

“It is evidently necessary to extend cooperation with our brothers in Pakistan against the center of terrorism,” Spanta said. “In this field we have the possibility to do more.”

In Helmand province’s Garmser district, Afghan police on Saturday killed three Taliban and wounded one, before NATO airstrikes killed another 14 Taliban and wounded six, said district police chief Ghulam Rasool, citing local intelligence reports.

A NATO spokesman would not comment, saying the operation was ongoing.

Meanwhile, in the western Badghis province, four suspected Taliban killed two police using rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns at a checkpoint in Murghab district on Sunday, said provincial deputy police chief Abdul Amid.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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